Grey’s Anatomy is closing out its 18th season with a bang that is bigger than usual as the season finale of the hit medical drama also marks its 400th episode, a milestone just a handful of TV series have reached.
The promo for the finale (you can watch it below) promises the high drama and major cliffhangers we have grown to expect from a Grey’s season ender. The episode also features the return of alums Jesse Williams and Sarah Drew who are reprising their fan-favorite roles as Jackson and April.
“It’s the 400th episode so we wanted to go big. Sarah and Jesse were both available and game to play which was thrilling,” Grey’s Anatomy executive producer/showrunner Krista Vernoff told Deadline. “It was great to see them and we know fans are excited to see them too! Jesse is doing brilliant work right now on a Broadway play so we only had one day to work with him. We made the most of it!”
Williams recently received a Tony nomination for his performance in the Broadway production of Take Me Out, while Drew is in the upcoming Apple TV+ comedy series Amber Brown.
After the end of her nine-year season tenure on Grey’s, Drew first returned to to the show for the May 2021 episode that revealed Williams’ exit. In it, Jackson told ex April that he was moving to Boston to take over the family foundation, and she agreed to follow him there so he can be close to their daughter while revealing that she had separated from her husband.
After helping give Williams’ Jackson a proper sendoff, Drew said she didn’t necessarily expect to be asked back.
“After we shot that episode, there was a lot of interest in seeing Jackson and April in Boston. So I had an inkling that maybe someday we’d get a little peek into that world, seeing the fans kept asking for it,” she said. “But no, it was a surprise to me, and I was asked to do it about two weeks before I was on set shooting. So it all happened very quickly.”
She revealed a little detail about April’s new life in Boston.
“What was pitched to me was that April is now working with the foundation as well,” she said. “There’s a whole bunch of drama happening at the hospital, and since he’s heading up the foundation, he has to go [Grey Sloan] to try to sort all of that stuff out. So I come also as a representative of the foundation with him. And that is as much as I can tell you.”
The drama Drew is referring to is the showdown over the fate of Grey Sloan’s training program that is coming to a head in the finale.
“The wonderful Dawnn Lewis returns as Jamarah Blake,” Vernoff said about the storyline. “Her presence is stressful enough as it is, but on this particular day, Grey Sloan is having a perfect storm of stress.”
As teased in the promo, that will include a threat for Owen’s side project providing drugs to terminally ill veterans being exposed, which may put Owen’s career on the the line and his relationship with Teddy to the test.
“Owen’s storyline is a part of the perfect storm of stress that the hospital and Bailey are going through,” Vernoff said. “There are no easy solutions to the problem he and Teddy are presented with in the finale.”
The biggest question asked in the promo, which Season 18 has been building toward, is whether Meredith will stay or go?
“In the finale, Meredith has a really difficult day at Grey Sloan,” Vernoff said. “To some degree, Meredith has had a difficult 18 seasons at Grey Sloan. As she contemplates leaving, she’s haunted by the memories of the time she has spent here. It’s tough to leave. It’s tough to stay.”
The promo also has Bailey dispatching April to the EP (aka The Pit).
“You will get to see me in the Pit which is really fun,” Drew said. “I am handling a situation involving the blood shortage with Ben when he comes comes to the ER, and we have a whole discussion out there about how to handle the blood shortage in the hospital. So you will see April in action a little bit.”
There will be something for Japril fans too — “you will get a small peek into” the current state of their relationship, Drew said.
She is well aware of the big online interest for a Jackson & April Grey’s Anatomy spinoff.
“I see the love for it from the fans daily but in terms of in terms of officially, there’s not been any any conversation about that,” Drew said. “It only exists in the fandom at this point.”
Returning to Grey’s is always special but doing it for the show’s 400th episode took that to another level for Drew.
“I felt really, really honored and grateful to be asked to participate in such a momentous episode. It made me really feel like I have never really left and I’ve always been part of the family, and that felt really good,” she said. “In terms of the way it felt shooting the episode, the experience was pretty surreal because last year when I came back, I was just on location at April’s house and only working with Jesse, and I wasn’t even working with our normal crew because we were on a special unit filming that episode. So it was a pretty surreal and extraordinary experience being back on set on the stages, walking the hallway of the place that I lived in for nine years with the people that worked with and I love so much. I found myself shooting a scene with Chandra and just sitting and thinking, this just feels so normal. It feels like I was just here yesterday. But the reality is that we’ve all lived four years of life since the last time I was in that scenario. So it’s pretty surreal because it felt very normal and just every day and regular.”
Drew hinted at a major cliffhanger for her and Williams’ characters.
“It definitely leaves open the possibility that you might be checking in with them,” she said. “After the script was released, I had texts flying in from cast and crew asking if I was coming back next year because of how the episode ends. But as of now that is not on the table. It’s not something that anyone has discussed with me in any kind of official capacity. But there’s a lot of open ended questions at the end of this episode. I think you’ll leave this episode with giant question marks,: Where do we go from here? How is the hospital going to recover? What is going to happen? What is the next year gonna look like? So I think there are a million questions and a million possibilities.”
If the opportunity presents itself, would Drew return for more?
“I’ve always kept the door open for Grey’s, for my family over there,” she said. “In terms of being there in any kind of permanent capacity. I don’t know,” she said. “I’m on an Apple TV show that’s coming out in July and waiting to hear about a pickup for that, and I have a whole bunch of projects that I’m working on right now. So it’s all kind of up in the air but in terms of popping in for a visit, I will always say yes to that.
Vernoff is still wrapping her head around the fact that she just presided over Grey’s 400th episode but she feels the finale will live up to the occasion.
“My mind is blown. All of our minds are blown,” she said. “It means so much to us that the show means so much to so many people in the world. The 400th episode is dramatic! We were lucky enough to have the 400th episode fall on the season finale so we pulled out all the stops.”
Here is the promo for the Grey’s Anatomy Season 18 finale, which airs Thursday, May 26.
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